A Wounded Fawn: A Critique


Liv Ream

Film Critic Liv Ream sits with a butcher knife as she contemplates A Wounded Fawn.

By Liv Ream, Film Critic

WARNING: If you plan on seeing this movie, do not read this review (spoilers!). 

Finally, a film that is worth the hype. Shot on 16mm film, this film showcases plenty of grain, fluid colors, nature shots, gender politics, violence and all the gore you can ask for. If you love Greek mythology and righteous female rage, then I suggest you stop reading this and go watch for yourself.  

We are introduced to sinister killer Bruce (Josh Ruben) at an art auction. This sculpture, while a bit on the nose, depicts the three Furies of Greek mythology and sets up the main theme of the movie: female vengeance. After losing the bid to Kate (Malin Barr), Bruce follows her home to offer to buy the sculpture from her. After being invited inside by Kate, Bruce’s hand begins to twitch as his self-described “evil piece,” is revealed. A large owl figure bathed in red light appears before Bruce slices Kate’s throat.  

After this abrupt, cold opening, the film transitions to Meredith (Sarah Lind). As a museum curator, I felt confident assuming she was marked for death since the audience is forced to watch her catch up to what we already know. Meredith is freshly out of an abusive relationship, and ready to push forward. It seems like she is trying to convince herself more than her therapist as she appears closed off and tense. Actually, everything about Meredith seems tense. From her nail-picking to the gaping space separating her and her therapist as they sit across from each other. However, you can tell Meredith is making an earnest attempt to recover from her trauma. 

Following this scene, Meredith is at an art gallery with friends. She sits shoulder to shoulder with them, looking far more relaxed in a low-cut flowing dress and appears very different than before. Meredith gushes about the weekend trip. We see where this is going.  

Bruce picks up Meredith for the long drive to the cabin and her guard is seemingly up. I don’t know how intentional this was, but it felt purposeful that Meredith’s wardrobe in this scene consists of a long, black turtleneck dress, a grey scarf with a matching cardigan. Her hair is pulled back into a clip. Once they arrive at the cabin, Meredith distinctly hears the word, “leave.” This is not a whisper, a cry or a scream., It is a very matter of fact speaking voice. I thought this was an interesting choice by the director since most audiences would expect a chilling, disembodied voice coming from the darkness. From here, it becomes evident that someone is trying to send a warning flare. Meredith, probably assuming she’s just being paranoid, follows Bruce inside for the tour. 

Bruce’s character is so sloppy it’s infuriating. It seems unreasonable to leave a rare, famous sculpture on the coffee table for the art curator’s’s girlfriend to see. I believe this is done to convey how Bruce puts exceptionally little thought into his actions. He takes what he wants. Whether it is women or art, he sees both as objects to acquire. 

 Astounded by the sculpture, Meredith comments that “The Wrath of the Erinyes” just came through her museum. Brushing it off as a reproduction, she is vaguely unconvinced remarking, “That is a hell of a reproduction.” 

After slyly texting a photo of the sculpture to her friends, Meredith encounters further ominous sounds. This compels her to question Bruce about his experience at the cabin. Before he can completely undermine her feelings of unease, Meredith sees a woman walk past the glass patio doors. Asserting that it had to be real because of the motion sensor light activating, she’s had enough. Meredith demands that they both leave. While packing, she receives a frantic phone call confirming, not only her suspicions about the sculpture, but the woman who bought it is missing. 

Bruce attacks Meredith, gruesomely stabbing her in the neck with a meat shredder (picture short wolverine claws on brass knuckles). Euphorically, he burns her clothes, smashes her phone and (for lack of a better term) relieves himself in the kitchen sink. Perhaps if Bruce spent less time jerking off, he would notice that Meredith’s dead body was in a completely different pose than when he left it. Meredith takes the opportunity to grab the sculpture and bash Bruce in the dome seven glorious times.  

In Act Two, the hallucinations ramp up. Toeing the line between reality and hallucination, Bruce wakes up in a daze, free from the bloody wounds he received earlier. As he lies in the morning light, he is greeted by an equally unharmed Meredith and Kate. This is where the Furies formally enter the story, metaphorically showing themselves as victims of Bruce. Snapping out of delirium, Bruce manages to pull himself out of the pool of blood surrounding his head and attempts to pull a piece of skull, or sculpture, out of his head wound. However, I don’t think the Furies are a result of Bruce’s mental illness or massive blood loss, as Meredith was hearing and seeing them too, I am going to confidently state they are real, and they are pissed. 

Bandaging himself up as well as he can, Bruce arms himself with a fire poker to search for Meredith. Seeing that the car is still in the driveway, he trudges off into the woods. I love that the woods seem endless and black from the house but once they are entered, they look as if they’re lit like a stage play. This is possibly a nod to the inspiration of this film, the Greek play “Orestes” (or it could be so we can see what’s happening in the woods).  

When he hears someone call to him, the psychological torture of Bruce begins. A growling Doberman (a nod to the hellhounds) begins chasing him through the woods. He runs back to his car but is stopped by two Furies., One appears as Kate and the other appears as one of the masked figures from the “The Wrath of the Erinyes” sculpture. A third masked Fury shows up and they begin chanting “Murderer! Thief!” at him. Bruce’s last resort is to hide in the cabin while the Furies continue to torture him with waking nightmares and jump scares. This induces a seizure that inspires Bruce to give the Furies the “The Wrath of the Erinyes” sculpture, setting it outside and calling for them to take it.  

Obviously, this is not what the Furies want from Bruce. They sit him down for a face-to-face conversation. The Fury presenting as Meredith asks Bruce why he chose her, and he claims he has no control over his actions. The Furies force Bruce to dig out his evil piece before he fashions himself a toga out of bedsheets. This scene culminates as Bruce is circled by the Furies as they chant, “Murderer! Thief!” before chasing him through the woods one last time. 

 The Furies tell Bruce he is a thief who robs women of their power, beauty and lives because he can’t stand not having any of those things. Bruce is unable to accept this or admit to his actions and therefore is compelled to stab himself over and over with the same meat shredder he used on Meredith. The sun is now up, and the credits roll as Bruce flails helplessly, still stabbing himself as the actual Meredith watches.  

Watching Bruce receive punishment for his many crimes is compelling, surreal and satisfying. Meredith surviving the entire ordeal is an extra victory lap.